by Margaret Evans Porter, historical (2013)
Gallica Press, $1.99, ISBN N/A
Well, hello there. Margaret Evans Porter is one of those historical romance authors that, uh, temporarily retired back in those days when staying published meant selling many, many, many books through a combination of luck, the cover gods granting a cover that sells, winning the "got placed in the right bookstores" lottery, and some other things that only those people at those publishers know. Thanks to the democratization of the publishing scene, here's something new from the author after so many years.
The Love Spoon is a novella, which explains the cover price. It's pretty clear that this story is meant to be a quick diversion, something to be read in a short time in a most painless manner possible. It's rather unrealistic, therefore, to expect too much from it.
After the death of her parents, Gwendolyn Pryce is the poor relation of the family, living on the charity of the family of her cousin Enid. When the story opens, Enid is getting married, and shortly after Enid goes off to live with her husband, Gwendolyn will head off to live with a maternal aunt in Chester. She will assist that woman as a milliner. Until then, she throws herself into helping with Enid's wedding preparations. She will enjoy herself, because who knows what the future holds. Attending the wedding is Hugo Meredith, the childhood friend of Enid's husband-to-be. He's rich, so that puts him in the list of unattainable guys even if Gwendolyn finds him intriguing and, of course, gorgeous.
Hugo is Welsh, like Gwendolyn and everyone else in this story, but he finds himself becoming more English - the young man named Huw becomes an urban gentleman named Hugo - when his family inherited lots and lots of money. In fact, he's attending the wedding despite the objections of his parents, who don't want him to mingle with "common" people now that they are all rich and posh. When he learns that Gwendolyn is going to move in with her aunt in Chester - which is his hometown - after this wedding, he becomes concerned for her because, at the end of the day, she's still a sheltered young lady from the countryside who has no idea of the extent of the drudgery and persecution she will experience in Chester. Perhaps he can convince her that Betws is where her home is, and she is better off living here instead of searching for ways to fill the empty places in her heart in Chester.
I can vaguely recall that I've found the author's full-length books in the past to be okay. They are readable, but a bit on the dull side. The Love Spoon, however, does everything right where I am concerned. In fact, this one feels like a beautiful tale by Karen Ranney far more than Karen Ranney's recent efforts - there is some gorgeous scenery here topped off by romantic scenes full of intimate conversations and quiet simmering emotions. Both Hugo and Gwendolyn are likable characters that talk and connect in a level that works despite the abbreviated word count of this story, and there is a nice old-school feel of propriety and gentility for the most part of the story that is rarely found in historical romance romps today. Hugo isn't a rake or spy, he's just a nice guy who has no problems making sweet romantic gestures that only very rich and charming men can do, sigh. Is there anything sweeter than a gentleman who has no issues spending lots and lots on money on a woman?
I also like how I am given glimpses into Hugo's parents that make them a bit more complicated than the usual "shrewish superficial image-conscious mother and the more indulgent father" stereotypes. It's also nice how Gwen has a good support system and she's smart enough to know when to say yes to Hugo.
And I really now how much I love this story when I find myself getting all choked up over the declaration of love on page 82 in my epub file of this book. Just two paragraphs, and I feel like something has lodged in my throat and my eyes are dangerously close to tearing up. The Love Spoon definitely does it for me. Very nicely done, Ms Porter - very nicely done, and thank you.
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